Four years ago, Gina and I took Sam and Nate swimming for the first time ever. We were in Williamsburg with my parents, and we took them to the pool one morning before it got too hot. We had swimmy diapers, sunscreen, matching swimsuits and little rafts for each boy. If I remember correctly, it took us about 40 minutes to get ready to go swimming, we were in the pool about 30 minutes, and it took us about 45 minutes to get dry and changed after we swam. My math tells me this was not the greatest return on our time investment. I seem to remember the boys having fun, or at least as much fun as a 5-month old baby can have, but it was definitely a lot of work.
Over time, thanks to awesome swim technology like life jackets and floating swimsuits, the act of swimming has become less of a chore and much more enjoyable. Each summer the boys make giant strides in their ability to swim and stay safe in the water. If the last two summers showed excellent progress, then this summer has been a quantum leap! This summer we finally moved from using flotation devices to swimming without any help at all. That's right, Sam and Nate are swimming completely by themselves. There are a few caveats to this statement. First, we only let the boys swim "freestyle" when Gina and I are in the pool with them. Second, we still use the life vests if we are in a crowded pool. But there is no doubt, they are both swimming independently. This is due in large part to their awesome swim teacher, Mrs. Sydnee. (The boys will quickly point out that this is not the same as Puppy Sydney, our dog.) She was a GREAT swim teacher, and she had the boys in the water swimming without floaties on the first day. She taught them how to use "big kickers...wide, slow arms...big breaths," and how to swim back to the edge of the pool after they jump in. Each week we could see them progress in their swimming skills from the week before.
One other thing the boys will be quick to point out to you is that swimming lessons are much different from going swimming. Mrs. Sydnee made each of the kids toe the line when it came to learning how to swim. This can be hard for a 4-year-old to remember, particularly one who desperately wants to go swimming. But overall, they did very well and have made huge improvements in their swimming. We are thankful for great teachers like Mrs. Sydnee, and we are also very grateful that swimming can now officially be moved from the "Physical Labor" category to "Recreation."
You can see some live action video of the boys swimming in our photo album.